Piven gets new look for Selfridge

This Is Local London: Jeremy Piven plays the title role in Mr Selfridge Jeremy Piven plays the title role in Mr Selfridge

Jeremy Piven has revealed that his radical make-over for his latest UK TV role has left some TV viewers confused.

The Entourage star is almost unrecognisable as the American shopping pioneer in new ITV1 period drama Mr Selfridge.

"Someone asked what I was doing here in London and I told them I'm an actor and working on a TV show," recalled Jeremy during a break in filming.

"The woman went, 'That must be tough because you look so much like that guy Jeremy Piven. Is that weird for you?' It was like an out-of-body experience," laughed the 47-year-old actor.

He blamed the confusion on the beard he's grown to play Harry Selfridge, the flamboyant visionary who founded London's famous department store and who's the focus of the glossy production - and a long way from the neurotic movie agent Ari Gold who played in Entourage.

The drama, written by Andrew Davies, is based on the book Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead. As part of his research, Jeremy read the many books written about the great man - and also by him. "He wrote a book about the romance of commerce and he's pretty well documented, so that really kept me busy," said Jeremy, who was astounded by the man's energy.

"He was out almost every night but never missed that moment the doors opened," he explained. "Really, he was the first celebrity of the time who was available to be seen every day at his store. He loved [the recognition] and ate it up."

Selfridge also had the unique ability to understand women, although the married family man was well known for having a wandering eye. "If you're going to celebrate someone's life then you need to celebrate their whole life," said Jeremy. "We all have a shadow side and he lives in the light so much professionally but he loved to go out and gamble, it made him feel alive - and he was also susceptible to women.

"But you know, you can't judge a man," he added. "When you're playing him, you've just got to inhabit it."

:: Mr Selfridge begins on ITV1 on Sunday, January 6.

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